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Stellar Recap | Sep 3-9
SEPT. 10, 2023
👋 Hello there,
Welcome to another edition of the Stellar Recap, a weekly newsletter where I share interesting content you may have missed over the week. This issue features 82 bullets.
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📊 Business, Economics & Personal Finance
Meta makes ~$17.84 per US and Canadian user (~270M in Q2), far more than its average revenue per user in other countries.
Google/Alphabet went public on Aug. 19, 2004, at a valuation of $23B. 19 yrs later, the company is worth $1.7T+. An initial investment of $1K at the IPO price of $85 would now be worth >$65K.
Leonid Radvinsky, the owner of OnlyFans, earned ~338M in dividends last year, which is ~$1.3M every workday. The platform says it keeps 20% of payments to its creators.
The maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, Novo Nordisk, officially became Europe’s most valuable company, eclipsing luxury conglomerate LVMH.
A recent analysis estimated that the ongoing film and tv strike has deprived California’s economy of ~$5B. The estimate includes lost revenue from service industries like caterers, rental companies, and dry cleaners. Warner Bros. Discovery expects revenue to drop by $300M-$500M because of the strikes.
Florida’s orange yield will be ~43% lower than expected this season due to hurricanes and bacterial disease. Production will fall short by ~12.2M 90 lb. boxes to 15.8M.
New data from ADP showed that 29% of US workers quit their jobs 1 mo. after their 1st promotion (🔒WSJ).
A recent report found that there are ~3.5M Americans ages 60+ who collectively owe $125B+ in student loan debt. The number of people ages 60+ with educational debt has increased by 6x since 2004 and the amount they owe is up by 19x. ~114K of these folks have had their Social Security garnished because they couldn’t afford student loan repayments.
The gap between men’s and women’s labor force participation rates in the US narrowed to a record 10.5%. The largest increase in participation was driven by women with children under age 5.
Lawyers, accountants, consultants, cryptocurrency analysts and other professionals have racked up $700M+ in fees (🔒NYT) since last year from the bankruptcies of 5 major crypto firms.
Last Fri., the United Auto Workers union rejected wage anad benefit offers from all 3 Detroit automakers, which means that the 146K member union will likely strike next week when their contract expires. The union’s demands include 46% across-the-board pay raises, a 32-hr week with 40 hrs of pay, restoration of traditional pensions for new hires, union representation of workers at new battery plants, and a restoration of traditional pensions. Top-earning workers make ~$32/hr + annual profit sharing checks.
US doctors reported increases in requests from patients for Botox injections in their trapezius muscles (🔒WSJ; aka “Barbie Botox” and “trap tox”), in the hopes of reducing pain and achieving longer-looking necks. Results start to kick in after 4 wks and last on average 6-8 mo. The procedure costs $900-$3K.
Diagnoses of later-stage prostate cancer have increased ~5% each year since 2014 and progress on lowering the death rate has stalled (🔒WSJ) since the US Preventive Services Task Force changed screening recommendations in 2012. Prostate cancer is the 2nd-leading cause of cancer death for men in the US, behind lung cancer, killing more than 30K/yr. Some doctors think it’s time to revisit screening recommendations.
Some US schools are cancelling classes and reconsidering reinstating masking and other health precautions because of a surge in Covid and other respiratory illnesses that have led to widespread absences.
The rate of obesity-related heart disease deaths in the US tripled between 1999 and 2020 from 2.2 per 100K to 6.6 per 100K. Deaths were highest among Black people (6.7 per 100K) compared with any racial group.
🎓 Lifelong Learning
A visual guide for learning how to tie knots.
Who is Hispanic, according to the federal government. There were ~63.7M Hispanic people in the US as of 2022, ~19% of the population. Note that Hispanic is considered an ethnicity - not a race - which drives differences in self-identification and reporting.
A 3D reconstruction of Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of the Aztec empire, which is in current day Mexico City.
Dictionary.com will add 566 new words this fall, including “nepo baby", “algo,” an “Blursday.”
🌴 Lifestyle & Travel
SmokyMountains.com released its 2023 fall foliage prediction map. Above average temps are expected for most of the West and SE continental US, which could delay foliage season slightly there.
~72K people attended the annual Burning Man festival this year. A rainstorm dumped ~2-3 mo. worth of rain during the festival so attendees were delayed from leaving for about 24 hrs due to sticky mud that was impassible for most vehicles. See (nonmuddy) photos from the festival and a neat satellite image.
Several European airlines started discounting flights (🔒Bloomberg) since summer demand has dwindled. Norway’s Norse Atlantic Airways had round-trip flights between the US and London available for around $300 early last week.
Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen was the most photographed restaurant in the US on Yelp between Jan. 1, 2022 - Jun. 29, 2023.
The most popular pizza style by state (🔒WP), according to 7.5M reviews on Yelp.
🗳️ Politics, Security & International Affairs
An FBI whistleblower filed a statement asserting that Rudy Giuliani “may have been compromised” by Russian intelligence while working as a lawyer and adviser to Trump during the 2020 campaign.
The Japanese government is considering asking its courts to dissolve the Unification church, which claims to have 100K believers in the country. Since 1987, the church has generated ~35K in compensation claims from people who allege they’ve suffered financial damage. The man who assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his family was bankrupted by the church and killed the politician over his ties to the group.
Local government employment in the US hasn’t recovered since the pandemic, particularly because of K-12 vacancies.
While <15% of appointees were in private industry immediately before joining HHS between 2004 and 2020, a new study found that ~1 in 3 political appointees to HHS go to work for the industry they oversaw immediately after departing their government job. “There is concern that some added value could come from the potential influence that these appointees can exert on former colleagues post departure, or from favorable actions taken before departure, that could compromise agency decision making."
Proud Boy leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio was sentenced to 22 yrs in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol. It’s the longest prison term so far among the ~600 sentences issued in connection with the insurrection. Tarrio was found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his role in organizing the Capitol riot with the aim of stopping the certification of the 2020 election results.
Thieves in Spain stole 50,000 L of olive oil (🔒Bloomberg), which is worth ~$535.2K. The average cost of a typical bottle of olive oil at Spanish supermarkets has jumped 15% since Jul.
After less than 10 yrs, the US Navy is retiring some of its newest ships, which cost ~$500M each and were supposed to last 25 yrs. The ships are bad at core missions like minehunting and hunting submarines, and fuel mileage is terrible which causes logistical problems.
Barring any upsets by a 3rd-party candidate, Mexico is set to elect its first woman president.
Internal government documents showed that Vietnamese officials are making clandestine plans to buy an arsenal of weapons from Russia (🔒NYT) in contravention of American sanctions.
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains has killed at least 1.3K people. The remoteness of the region and the complexity of the terrain are complicating rescue efforts.
The CEO of collapsed crypto exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Ozer, was sentenced to 11,196 yrs in prison (🔒Bloomberg) by a Turkish court.
⏩ Pop Culture, Art, Sports & Entertainment
A new study suggests that the perfect free throw involves a controlled shooting motion with a low center of mass (less forward lean and higher ball release).
Preply, a language-learning platform, found in a survey that “rizz” was among the most common slang terms parents were hearing from their children this year (🔒WSJ), along with “sus” (short for suspicious), and “bet” (an affirmation). “Rizz” is a term that describes a mix of confidence, charm, magnetism, attractiveness, and a certain je ne sais quoi.
A visualization of how the NCAA has shifted since 1965 (🔒NYT). Stanford and SMU were just added to the roster for the ACC next year.
F1 driver Max Verstappen won his 10th straight victory at the Italian Grand Prix last weekend, which earned the Red Bull team member the record for most wins in a row. The team hopes to break another record this season by being the first to make it through entirely undefeated.
At least 29 US art directors make $500K+/yr. The director of NYC’s MoMa topped the list with a $2M salary, which doesn’t include a rent-free apartment above the museum.
AMC hit a new record for single-day ticket sales, after Swifties spent $26M in less than 3 hrs on tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert film. The previous record holder was Spider-Man: No Way Home, earning $16.9M.
Apple saw ~110.1K sign-ups for its MLS Season Pass on Jul. 21, after Lionel Messi's debut for Inter Miami. It added another 65K subscribers 4 days later when Messi played his 2nd game.
A record 73.5M Americans plan to wager on the NFL this season, a nearly 60% increase from last season.
The US Coast Guard stopped a marathon runner from attempting to run across the Atlantic Ocean (from London to Georgia) in a vessel that resembled a particularly buoyant hamster wheel. It’s the 4th known incident that’s been foiled by the Coasties.
~330M tennis balls are produced each year and the US Open goes through ~100K balls alone over the course of the tournament (1 new ball every 7 rounds). The problem is that tennis balls can take centuries to decompose.
Consumers spent $303.7M on pickleball paddles and balls in Q1 and Q2 (🔒WP), up from $50.8M in the same year of 2020 and above the $284.8M spent on tennis rackets and balls.
Rotten Tomatoes aggregates movie reviews and scores films by “classifying each review as either positive or negative and then dividing the number of positives by the total.” Reviews that straddle the middle are counted as negative. Studios know this and some have learned how to game the system. For example, one PR company paid critics $50 to give the 2018 film Ophelia good ratings.
~11K runners were disqualified from the Mexico City Marathon for cutting parts of the course.
Since 2011, total pay for NFL running backs and fullbacks has increased only ~11% (🔒NYT) to an average of $5M (among the 32 highest paid running backs). For every other offensive position, total pay has increased 90%+. The average pay of a top-32 offensive lineman last year was $16.9M.
🏡 Real Estate
A survey by Houzz found that the median cost of a bathroom rennovation increased ~13% to $9K, while higher-budget projects (the top 10% of spenders) saw a 17% increase to $35K+.
Despite opposition, the Hong Kong government is converting 79 acres of land currently housing the Fanling Golf Course into 12K apartments (🔒Bloomberg) once the Golf Club’s lease expires. Club membership costs $51K to join.
>4 in 5 prospective home buyers consider climate risks as they shop. Most are particularly concerned about flood risk, followed by wildfires, extreme temps, hurricanes, and drought.
According to data from InsideAirbnb as of Jun. 2023, Asheville, NC, has the most Airbnb listings (34.2) per 1K residents. NYC may soon have the lowest concentration of listings since a new ban on short-term rentals went into effect last week. ~15K short-term listings have since disappeared from the site — with many reclassifying as “long-term” listings overnight. There are also reports of hosts taking their potential bookings “off-platform”, negotiating privately with their would-be guests instead.
The 5 largest single-family-home rental landlords in the US increased their annual fees per lease by an average of 40% between 2018 and 2021. Fees include charges for moving in and out, lease admin fees, trash pickup, pest control, maintenance requests, and mailbox fees.
Regional banks across the US gorged on commercial real-estate loans and related investments in big cities over the past 10 yrs and now those trillions of dollars in loans and investments could set off a doom loop (🔒WSJ) where losses on the loans trigger banks to cut lending, which leads to further drops in property prices and more losses.
USAA is the latest insurance provider to reduce home coverage options in California due to risks of wildfire.
A ~20K sq ft ski-in, ski-out mansion in Aspen sold for a record $76M (🔒WSJ). The previous record was $72.5M (🔒WSJ), from a sale in 2021.
Total mortgage application volume in the US fell to 2.9% last week, compared with the previous week, marking a 27-yr low.
A new study found that recruiters may be more reluctant to hire people who post about experiences with anxiety and depression on LinkedIn. The job candidates were viewed as being less emotionally stable and less conscientious.
Current and former vegetarians appear to be more tolerant than pure omnivores when it comes to views on the animals people eat. For example, 37% of current and former vegetarians considered it okay for others to eat cats, compared with 15% of meat-eaters.
With the departure of Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer last week, there are now 0 Black women running S&P 500 companies.
Animal shelters across the US are overwhelmed with stray or owner-surrendered pets, leading to a sharp rise in euthanasia rates. The highest rate is in New Mexico, with about 1 in 4 pet dogs euthanized so far this year.
A Pew survey found that ~8 in 10 women in opposite-sex marriages took their spouse’s last name when they got married while 14% kept their last name and 5% hyphenated both their name and their spouse’s name. Only 33% of women who have never been married said they would take their spouse’s last name while 24% weren’t sure. Just 2% of never-married men said they would take their spouse’s last name and 5% of men in opposite-sex marriages actually did. Younger women and those with a postgraduate degree were more likely to keep their name after marriage.
Nearly half of all Californians speak a language other than English at home. Spanish is the most commonly spoken language, followed by Chinese and Tagalog.
🧪 Science, Climate, Environment & Technology
Researchers trained an AI system to describe how compounds smell by analyzing their chemical structures, including some that don’t exist in nature.
A UN-backed report said 3.5K+ invasive plants and animals cost the world at least $423B/yr in damages. Economic damages from invasive pests have quadrupled every decade since 1970, with ~200 more species becoming invasive each year via ships and planes. The most widespread invasive species is currently the water hyacinth.
Preliminary data from Copernicus showed that the global average surface temp. from Jun. to Aug. was ~1.17F above the 1991-2020 average. Numerous US cities in the South set records for their hottest Jun.-Aug. periods, including New Orleans, Miami, and Houston. Countries like Australia, Jaan, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Switzerland also broke all-time seasonal records.
Data from the World Meteorological Organization indicated that the Northern Hemisphere did indeed experience its hottest summer on record.
A recent survey found that 42% of computer science professors from top US research universities worry about AI’s risk of bias and discrimination, while only 22% worry about its potential to create mass unemployment.
New proposals to relax FAA regulations will enable anyone in the US with a valid driver’s license and 30 hrs of flight training to fly certain helicopters that qualify as “light-sport aircrafts".”
Torrential rain unleashed major floods in Central Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey last week (🔒NYT). At least 7 people died and many more are missing.
Researchers identified 71 different proteins in the mucus of a small snail species Cornu aspersum. A third of the proteins have not been documented before.
A new study estimated that ~20% of the world's top 1K websites are blocking crawler bots that gather data for AI services, including NYT and CNN.
A report by the Mozilla Foundation found that all major automakers collect a lot of data on its consumers (e.g., GPS data; satellite radio use; facial expressions; contact info; race; immigration status; sexual activity) and most (92%) privacy policies do not give consumers a choice to opt-out. 84% of the 25 brands reviewed in the study share the data while 76% retain the right to sell the data.
An investigation of an AI startup called Kaedim, which claims to convert 2D images into 3D files, does not in fact rely on AI. The company relies on a massive roster of freelancers from the developing world that it pays $1-$4 per model they create.
For the first time, scientists have successfully frozen chunks of adult corals and revived them, which could help save them from extinction as oceans heat up and acidify due to human-caused climate change.
Torrential rain and winds caused by a cyclone killed at least 27 people in southern Brazil last Thurs. and thousands have been forced to evacuate.
Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to see a newly discovered comet, named Nishimura after its discoverer, on the NE horizon ~hour and a half before dawn on Sep. 12. It last visited our solar system ~430 yrs ago.
The average cost of building an offshore wind farm hit $4K/kw (🔒WSJ) compared with an average cost of ~$1.4K/kw for an onshore wind farm. The cost of building offshore has risen 36% since 2019 while land-based projects have risen by just 5%.
~50% of Denver’s daily record-high temps have occurred since 2000. 33% occurred in years since 2010.
TIME Magazine published the 100 most influential people in AI in 2023.
Wishing you a good week
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